by Milo Clark
(Swans - March 28, 2005) Confusion's rampant! Into the fifth year of W and second year of Iraq, I rest confused.
A friend called me a sarcastic cynic hung between irony and enlightenment. Okay, then what?
From countless sources on the Internet, evidence abounds about the Straussian victories energizing the neocons into chapters unwritten in Animal Farm and beyond the fertile imagination of George Orwell.
I read The New York Review of Books, The London Review of Books and The Financial Times where I am confronted with on-site reports from people actuality in Iraq or Beirut or Jerusalem or Kabul or other world hotspots. They are reporting what, to them, is evident. What, to them, is evident is chaotic.
In comes a recent copy of Newsweek reflecting the turbulence in Beirut, events in Iraq and Afghanistan as triumphs for democracy in action. After all, Bush is right! I compare and contrast and see white reported as black, red reported as green.
Sycophancy and propaganda purveying are mild judgments compared to a theoretically responsible major "news" publication cowering and kowtowing before the administration media machines. Doonesbury is doing a set on suborning a correspondent to throw softies in Washington "news" conferences. Tom Tomorrow and Ted Rall cartoons chip away impotently.
I have looked at the works of respected historian Walter Laqueur to find confusion. Laqueur has done excellent work compiling a set of handbooks, if you will, of great use in interpreting and analyzing human rights, guerilla movements and, most recently, a comprehensive collection titled Voices of Terror: Manifestos, Writings and Manuals of Al Qaeda, Hamas and Other Terrorists from Around the World and Throughout the Ages [Reed Press, N. Y. 2004, ISBN 1-59429-035-0].
The subtitle is an obvious example of the publisher's editors attempting to be sensationalist and timely as the contents are much more balanced and informative. Inside, Laqueur assembles excerpts from Aristotle to today.
That Laqueur draws conclusions, as noted in previous commentaries, aligning him with the Bush strategies, remains puzzlement.
Attempting to read and make sense of this compendium in a massive task far beyond recognizing that, once again, cliché triumphs: one man's terrorist is another's freedom fighter. Perspective, time and perception merely shows how sand shifts given wind, light and presence.
I note with sadness tinged with sarcastic cynicism that each sequence of official enemies selected does have one consistency. The once United States of America in each instance gradually becomes more like the enemy in behavior.
The current status the PRChina recently revived as a Bush enemy while out-capitalizing developed economies and accumulating massive trade and reserve surpluses is irony squared, if not taken to higher powers.
Pundits today face their punditry as choices between freedom and security.
In Great Britain, the House of Lords, uniquely enough as the house of entrenched privilege, is presently leading challenges to Tony Blair's attempts to out-Patriot the USA Patriot Act -- to retain rather than further shrink civil liberties.
A core of English common law and history has been habeas corpus, the requirement that governments operate within rule of law and due process. This core concept is deeply embedded and enshrined in precedent lodged with the challenge to monarchic excess since 1215 and all that. Few note that habeas corpus has been abandoned, shrugged off and denigrated in the once United States of America. More do note that opinion polls support the choice of security over freedom.
I will note that irony drapes itself over the brittle facade of sarcastic cynicism.
While few understand that we have seasons out here in semi-tropical Hawaii, it is springtime. In that I rejoice although everything normally prolific in growth now goes outrageous. Outrageous is a wonderful way to be in Bush time.
This week I cut down a tall and straight 'Ohia tree half fallen in the forest. I stripped off the bark and started work to make it into a new flag pole from which to fly both American and Hawaiian flags upside down -- universal distress symbols.
Why Hawaii, too? Senators Akaka and Inouye, nominal Democrats, tipped the scales by voting with Senate Republicans to move forward the question of opening the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil drilling.
For The Fallen
Amid bloodroot and trillium
beyond a patch of fiddleheads,
next to a brook
glimmering in sunlight,
lay bones bleached
as white as new snow,
beneath moosewood buds
bursting forth young and fresh . . .
I search for remnant ice
but it's finished now,
leaving polypody and woodfern
stretching upward and free
after months muscled down
to frozen earth.
Mud yields with each step -
soft, black humus mixed
with half-rotten leaves,
giving rise to the countless
green spears of wild lilies
that will soon bloom
through the empty eye sockets
of an unlucky doe.
I do not swat the fly
whirling about my head.
Dried grass laments in the wind.
Chickadees chirp cautiously.
And the high-pitched peeps
coming from nearby wetlands
sound like prayers uttered
for the fallen.
—Walt McLaughlin, from his book of poems, Deeper into Woody Chaos.
"The transition from tenseness, self-responsibility, and worry, to equanimity,
receptivity, and peace, is the most wonderful of all those shiftings of inner
equilibrium, those changes of the personal center of energy, which I have analyzed
so often; and the chief wonder of it is that it so often comes about, not by doing, but
by simply relaxing and throwing the burden down."
(Courtesy of Rod McIver at Heron Dance.)